Responding to Negative Social Media Comments

Businesses both large and small are continuing to require a larger online presence. Businesses are increasingly taking advantage of the seemingly countless social media platforms for marketing, branding, networking, and recruiting, to name a few. Social media platforms for businesses looking to grow are no longer an option. Nearly all businesses operating today have at the very least a website but the ability to instantly reach out to potential customers and clients through social media has completely changed the landscape for business marketing.

However, any business with Facebook or Twitter account can likely tell you it’s not always positive. Social media is full of what the kids like to call “trolls.” It is easier than ever for a person to share their discontent with a negative comment or tweet. Not only posting a negative comment about your business or their experience with your business but maybe a negative comment to something you’ve shared or commented on.

Knowing how to respond to these negative social media comments is a necessity in your business, and choosing the correct response will certainly impact your businesses’ image.

First, document any negative comment and do not delete negative comments. If this escalates to a more serious matter in any kind of court proceedings it is important to have proof of what was said. Further, deleting negative comments will only aggravate the original poster, likely leading to more negative comments. If, however, an individual continues to post and harass or spam your page, it may be wise to delete their messages or block them from the page.

Do not pick a fight. Unfortunately, the complaining customer is likely trying to get an emotional reaction from their post or comment. Don’t take it personal and remember this all seen in public. You are not only replying to the poster but to all your followers. Remain professional and remember that, first and foremost, you are a business

If it’s a legitimate complaint, responding as soon as possible shows other followers you care about their input and are a business that looks to make things right. In that same vein, keeping responses out in the open instead of in private messaging conveys a similar attitude about customer complaints. If it looks like a deeper issue, feel free to ask the poster to provide a private message so you can gather their contact information and follow up over the phone.

Why am I reading any of this from the point of a view of lawyer? Well, we are continuing to see more and more cases in Iowa that inevitably include social media posts and comments as evidence at trial. Whether your business is being sued for the underlying customer complaint or you have a cause of action against the poster for libel, these online interactions can very well make or break your case. Ensuring you provided a professional and timely response adds credibility to any argument at trial.

If your business is involved in any online dispute that you feel may escalate to a larger legal battle we recommend you consult with an attorney.

Joseph Rust is an Associate Attorney with the Sullivan & Ward Professional Corporation. He can be reached at (515) 247-4721 or